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‘Nexus’ of traders, officials exposedBags of wheat yet to be lifted in Karnal grain market. Tribune photo

‘Nexus’ of traders, officials exposed

Draw payments from state exchequer without delivery of wheat25 Apr 2018 | 1:05 AM

CHANDIGARH: With seizure of 500 quintals of wheat brought from Aligarh in Uttar Pradesh, the authorities on Tuesday stumbled upon a nexus of traders and government officials, who were hoodwinking the procurement process by drawing payments from the state exchequer without actual delivery of wheat.

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Sushil Manav

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 24

With seizure of 500 quintals of wheat brought from Aligarh in Uttar Pradesh, the authorities on Tuesday stumbled upon a nexus of traders and government officials, who were hoodwinking the procurement process by drawing payments from the state exchequer without actual delivery of wheat.

The authorities came across the racket when some truckers left 500 quintals of wheat brought from Aligarh at a place outside the grain market in Kharkhoda town of Sonepat district late Monday evening and disappeared.

The authorities, who were already on alert amidst reports of arrival of wheat from UP, seized the stock and began investigations.

Deputy Commissioner Vinay Singh said three traders of the grain market, who were suspected to have brought the wheat from Aligarh, fled. The wheat, he said, was packed in bags bearing Punjab mark.

“We have seized the registers of the market committee as well as the procurement agencies and a team of senior officials is probing the matter by counting the actual quantities of wheat arrivals in the grain market,” said the DC.

The authorities suspect that the wheat brought from Aligarh was to be supplied to the procurement agencies against the commodity already shown to have been procured by the government and payments already released.

Sources said under the nexus involving traders, officials of the FCI and market committee, entries were made in the registers showing procurement of wheat without actual delivery of the commodity.

Since, the government norms prescribe that the payment must be released within 72 hours of procurement of crop, however, the officials released payments even before receiving the wheat.

Later, the traders brought wheat from UP or other neighbouring states where it was available at Rs 150 to Rs 200 below the MSP and sent it to the FCI warehouses in connivance with the officials.

In some cases, even inferior quality wheat sold in auctions has made its way to the mandis for government procurement by mixing it with better quality wheat, said sources.

Alarmed by the revelations, the state government has also ordered physical verification of stocks in Palwal and some other districts on borders of other states where unusually heavy arrivals have been reported.

Ram Niwas, Additional Chief Secretary (Food, Civil Supplies and Consumer Affairs) said on his directions, Palwal DC Mani Ram had constituted a committee of officers under the SDM and began physical verification of stocks lying in Palwal, Hassangarh and Hodal grain markets.

“In these three grain markets alone, the arrival of 37.38 lakh quintals of wheat is shown in official records, which is 9.6 lakh quintals more than the last year. Lifting seems to be deliberately delayed on excuse of shortage of labourers,” he said.

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Briefly

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